Since the Blue Jackets selected Yegor Chinakhov with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2020 draft, the winger has played in 97 NHL games and posted 12-16--28. On Tuesday, in his fifth game of the 2023-24 campaign, he scored his first NHL goal since November 25, 2022.
Injuries have prevented the 22-year-old from gaining traction at the NHL level, and he's played just 161 professional games since being drafted, including 108 in North America.
|Yegor Chinakhov stats (via hockeydb.com)||Regular Season||Playoffs|
|2021-22||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||62||7||7||14||16||-27||--||--||--||--||--|
|2022-23||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||30||4||9||13||10||-6||--||--||--||--||--|
|2023-24||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||5||1||0||1||0||-6|
However, Chinakhov has all the tools to be an effective NHL player. According to the player and puck tracking data from NHL EDGE, Chinakhov is in the 98th percentile for top skating speed (23.24 mph) and in the 89th percentile for top shot speed (93.96 mph) so far this season.
Although he's registered just one point in five games, the underlying numbers tell a different story. According to evolving-hockey.com, he ranks fourth on the team in goals above replacement per 60 minutes (0.534 GAR/60) and third in expected goals above replacement per 60 (0.833 xGAR/60).
With the team's two highest-paid forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine combining for just three goals this season, other players have to step up in order to keep the Blue Jackets in the hunt for a playoff spot after a 4-8-4 start to the season. As a first-round pick, the expectation should be that Chinakhov is one of those players.
On Tuesday, Chinakhov played on the second forward line with Laine and Boone Jenner, and they recorded a 69.6% expected goals for percentage, according to moneypuck.com. Chinakhov has the chance to make the most of this top-six opportunity at a time when the Blue Jackets are in desperate need of secondary goal-scorers.